You may say, “they call it ‘work’ for a reason.” It’s true work isn’t always fun. It is, in fact, well—work. But like most other things in life, how you approach your work can have a lot to do with how you feel about your work at the end of the day. Here’s three motivators that can literally change, not only the way you feel about work, but how well you work in general. Read More
As I Live
A poem based on Ezekiel 34
Many of the candidates throwing their hat in the ring to be the next president of the United States are speaking much about helping our nation return to something she was in the past. Just so you know, I understand what they’re saying. Everything in our nation seems in flux these days. Many are asking questions like; how did things get this way? Why is it that our nation seems so different? What happen to patriotism?
There are a lot of opinions and even more questions as to why things are the way they are. Let me share, though, what won’t bring our nation back to what it was:
I completely understand the confusion, however. So many think that prosperity is what made our country great and many, many immigrants came to this nation looking for that prosperity. What the immigrants had, however, was much greater than prosperity. (More on that in a minute).
Unfortunately, the confusion continues even in and through the American church. So many look at the church as a gateway to prosperity and look at God as someone who exists to give us more and more. Megachurch pastors seem to be competing against each other to see who can build the biggest multi-million dollar mansion and who can buy their own private jet. It’s pretty bad when CNN has to tell people who Jesus was and what He taught. (See Video below).
Now, we have Donald Trump throwing in his candidacy for president, full of boasting of his own prosperity. The Donald rolls out his campaign plan by boasting his eight plus billion dollar net worth. His goal is seemingly to lead us back to prosperity. He has no hope of doing that by the way.
The problem is that the search for prosperity and our finding sufficiency in it is fleeting.
Here’s the truth: prosperity is not what made our country great. That which made our country great is what made us prosperous.
We’re not the first nation in the world to place false hopes in prosperity. It’s happened many, many times before. You can see it all through history in the story of many nations like the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, and yes, even in God’s own nation of people, Israel.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God told Israel what their prosperity was actually getting them–nothing. Actually, it was less than nothing. Because they “did not look to the One who [gave] it,” Israel ultimately lost it. And that’s why America is losing it too. It is today just as it was then, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” (See Isaiah 22:8-14)
That’s why James’ words are recorded in the New Testament:
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. (James 5:1–2)
Because prosperity does not deliver greatness!
As long as we think prosperity is what makes men great, we’ll continue to choke on it.
Will God allow our prosperity to fail? Has He? The answer is yes! Why? So we will return to the things that truly made our nation great. He knows as long as we’re enamored with stuff we won’t be seeking Him and He is gracious enough to let those things fade so we will look up again.
You see, it wasn’t prosperity that made the immigrant come to the United States. It wasn’t prosperity that made him leave his home and family in search of something better. It was hope.
Hope is why many an immigrant came to the shores of the U.S. Hope is why so many men and woman in history have looked up from adversity and found the strength to continue. They found the ability to put one foot in front of the other to work, fight, climb, and struggle to make it; to even be great. It was hope! That’s why the psalmist so long ago wrote:
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. (Psalm 42:11 Emphasis mine)
Will prosperity make our nation great again? No. Is it evan possible for our nation to be great again? Maybe not. But this I know, if we ever decide to return to what made our country great in the first place, things like faith, hope, and love; only then will we ever see greatness. Only then will we again be a place where people will want to come for a better life.
Hope in God!
(Start at 39:56 to see Trump share his net worth)
Here’s a teaching outline and some thoughts that have come out of that so far.
Unless we come to place where we’re ready to rest our lives, daily, solely in the care of God, we will not come to the place of fervent, diligent prayer. Prayer begins and ends with faith.
Below is an outline I’ve written based upon the first chapter of E.M. Bounds “The Necessity of Prayer” from my copy of The Complete Works of E. M. Bounds on Prayer. All quotes that are not Scripture are from Bounds.
Prayer that is fueled by faith is:
- “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6, NKJV)
- Faith is the foundation of prayer and prayer grows faith. The two are inseparable. Without the one you cannot have the other.
- Sure of the God to whom it prays.
- Prayer that is by faith gives up first on self-sufficiency.
- “The faith which creates powerful praying is the faith which centers itself on a powerful person. Faith in Christ’s ability to do and to do greatly, is the faith which prays greatly.”
- Based upon the work that Christ is already doing.
- The only way to guarantee God answering prayer is a prayer that based upon faith in what God is doing, and join in on that.
- We will never truly understand verses like: John 14:14, “If you ask anything in my name I will do it,” without understanding this truth.
- Waits on God to answer
- When we pray by faith we don’t grow disheartened because God hasn’t answered right away. (We should grow disheartened if God doesn’t answer a prayer we never prayed). Praying by faith trusts that God will answer when our prayer, by faith, matches His purpose that gives us that faith. E. M. Bound says that it’s a privilege to pray and wait on God to answer.
- Waiting in faith grows your faith
- Prays for today’s present need
- Bounds says that we don’t need to pray today for tomorrow’s bread, just for today’s. “The present is ours, the future belongs to God…We cannot have tomorrow’s grace, we cannot eat tomorrow’s bread, we cannot to do tomorrow’s praying. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof; and, most assuredly, if we possess faith, sufficient also, will be the good.”
This past Sunday I preached the second message out of the Armor of God in Ephesians 6. The critical truth of this armor is two-fold. First, this is God’s armor, God’s strength and God’s protection for us. Secondly, knowing that it’s imperative that we have it to protect us from the Devil’s schemes, we must put it on. That’s our part. So the question arises; how do you put on the armor? Here’s a brief explanation of all six pieces of armor Paul describes in Ephesians 6:
- There’s no value in unapplied truth. Jesus said, “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) Seek the truth but put on the armor of truth by applying it.
- Putting on this piece of armor is as much about what you don’t do. Remember, that our righteousness does not come by way of anything we can do. Only true righteousness is imputed (put on us) by God through Jesus. Paul wrote, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) How do you put on the armor of righteousness? Stop trying to be righteous on your own. (We mostly do this through religious yet un-scriptural works.) God is not impressed by us, He’s impressed when He sees the Son’s righteousness on us by faith.
- Gospel (Good News) of peace
- Even in the midst of the spiritual battle that Paul warns us about, and the one that we know’s going on deep down, we can have peace. How? Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Jesus promised that we can have peace, deep, soul-quenching peace even in the midst of the battle; in Him.
- This piece of armor deflects the “fiery darts” of the devil. How do we have it? By continually and deliberately placing the full weight of our faith in Jesus’ ability and not our own. That’s what faith is. So, continue in the process to which Jesus has called you and learn to take faith from your own ability and place it in Christ.
- I know what you’re thinking; how do you put on salvation? Salvation is of the Lord! That is correct, it is. You put it on, not in any way trying to save yourself, but living as though it matters. You put on salvation by remembering that there’s more to life than just this life. The Apostle John said, “For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world.” (1 John 2:16) If you’re only tied to the stuff of this world, Satan will use that against you. Make sure you’re tied to the next life, store up your treasure there as you live fully here.
- The Word
- This is how God instructs in truth. Just like the armor of truth, it must be applied. But, you will never apply it if you don’t read it. Whatever you do, don’t let everything you know, or even most of what you know about the Bible be second hand. Read it for yourself.
Make sure you put on the whole armor today and live in the protection and security of the Lord!
Below is a link the the full sermon from Sunday: